Imagine a quinoa bowl with softened kale in savory shallot oil, topped with caramelized sweet butternut squash, lightly spiced curry cream, and crispy fried fragrant leaves. Does that sound like all you need for dinner? Then this is your recipe.
That's because it's a one-bowl meal, with all the nutrition and variety of flavors you could wish for.
I love how cozy and simple it feels to munch on the alternating flavors, mixing and matching at leisure. The fluffy quinoa is especially good scooped and smothered in curry cream sauce. It's so comforting in fact, you may want to find your favorite pair of sweat pants to wear before settling in to eat it. I won't tell if you cup it in your hands and finish it in front of the television.
Even though the dish has four distinct and fabulous parts, it's easy to put together. All you need to do is bake a whole squash ahead of time. Did you know you don't even need to cut butternut squash in half to bake it?
Well, neither did I until recently. For years I followed the old school directions of slicing winter squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and baking cut side up with a half-inch of water in the pan. Of course, it works very well. What doesn't work so well is what it takes to prepare the squash for baking.
Baking whole squash
I don't know about you, but I never enjoy wrestling a rolly thick-skinned squash with a sharp knife. Then there is the equally challenging task of scraping out all the seeds with their tenacious strings. One day I really, really wanted my baked butternut squash. But, I really, really did not want to go through the work to have it. Thus, I decided tradition had to go. I took a risk and plopped my whole squash on a cookie sheet and baked it to see what would happen.
Well, perhaps you are way ahead of me and surprise of all surprises, already know that it works perfectly fine to bake a squash whole. I do pierce it with a long-tined fork a couple of times. But that is all there is to it. Once it's cool, it's so easy to peel and scoop out the seeds. Best of all, I find it easier to control the firmness of the roasted squash that way. In this recipe, you'll want your squash al dente, so it can be caramelized in a skillet just before eating.
You might wonder about the fresh curry leaves in the ingredient list. Don't fret if they are not available where you live. They are phenomenal in this dish, but fresh sage fried up crispy in some vegan butter or ghee works just as well. Just thinking of sprinkling the crackly leaves over a Curry Cream Kale and Quinoa Bowl makes me want to put it on my menu again soon.
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Curry Cream Kale & Quinoa Bowl
- 3 TB cashew cream cheese
- 2 TB creamy nut milk
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. garam masala
- ⅛ tsp, turmeric
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 TB minced shallot
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 TB vegan ghee or vegan butter
- 12 whole fresh curry leaves or small sage leaves
- 3 cups water
- ⅓ cup quinoa
- ½ tsp. Not Chicken Bouillon or ½ cube vegan chicken style bouillion
Kale and Butternut Squash
- 6 cups tender young kale, cut in half inch ribbons
- 1 ½ cups cubed baked butternut squash
- 1 tsp. vegan ghee or olive oil
- 1 TB maple syrup
Curry Cream, Kale Dressing and Optional Garnish
- Whisk curry cream ingredients together. Set aside to warm to room temperature while preparing quinoa and vegetables.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together ingredients for kale dressing.
- Heat vegan ghee in a small pan and fry leaves over medium heat. You can test leaves for doneness by draining one on a paper towel. They will crisp up as they cool.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour in quinoa and cook 10-12 minutes until cooked.
- Drain quinoa well. Return to hot pan. Stir in no-chicken seasoning, and if needed, salt to taste. Cover pan with a lid.
Kale and Butternut
- While quinoa is boiling, bring another pot of water to boil. Add kale and stir to wilt. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let kale sit in hot water until just before serving.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown squash on both sides. Add maple syrup and stir lightly to glaze.
Assemble Quinoa Bowl
- Drain kale and stir in dressing. Place on a plate in a circle. Pile quinoa in center of circle. Add butternut squash in a ring. Top everything with curry cream. If desired, top with crispy curry leaves, crispy sage or fresh cilantro.